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Reminiscences of Alaska by Capt. Thomas J. Maher, C&GS

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TOURISTS

The "Cottage City" was the favorite tourist ship. It stopped at a number of places on the Inside Passage. At one of these stops where we frequently tied up there were several Indian youngsters with pronounced red hair. This feature was a subject for comment by tourists and one was heard to say, "This is most unusual. It should be called to the attention of the Smithsonian Institute." In the Ship's library at that time was a copy of Ignatius Donnelly's "Atlantis" and in it were mentioned the Mandans, white Indians with gray or blue eyes and light hair. Captain Crook, one of the best known of the Alaskan Pilots, was with us. He did not think the Mandans reached that section. He was born in Holland and had been to sea since he was eight years old. Then in his fifties, he had seen much of the world, in deep water sailing ships. Not educated in archaeology, ethnology or kindred sciences, he was a keen observer and had well substantiated views on current biological developments. These redheaded youngsters were about four or five years of age. Crook recalled that about that time there were several redheaded men in the crew who seemed quite attractive to the Indian ladies and he thought that their appearance might have exerted some psychic prenatal influence. We never mentioned to the tourists the views so expressed.

Years later I mentioned this incident to Admiral Gibson, one of our officers who had been Navigating Officer on one of the vessels of the fleet operating in Polynesian waters during the War. The ship anchored off one of the small islands, one of the Friendly Islands group. He went ashore and saw a number of natives with pronounced red hair. Walking along the trail toward him, smiling, a fiery redhead came up to him, punching his chest with both fists, and saying, "Me O'Brien." Many years previously a redheaded Irishman named O'Brien was stranded on that island. Apparently he prospered well. I have a faint recollection of having read in one of Captain Cook's travels or voyages, that when leaving the anchorage off Tahiti, James Marra, an Irishman, jumped over board and headed for the beach. He was captured and brought aboard. He was frustrated in his attempts to establish an integration center.

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